He wants it out of the Louvre, calling it the Kim Kardashian of 16th century Italian portraiture.
Even in a city saturated with excellent fall exhibitions, from the Grand Palais’s retrospective of El Greco to the Fondation Louis Vuitton’s showcase of Charlotte Perriand, the show of the season here is the decade-in-the-works “Leonardo da Vinci,” at the Musée du Louvre. Mandatory timed tickets are sold out through November for this thorough, deeply serious exhibition, which sloughs off the myths that cling to this least productive of Renaissance masters. You will find here a cleaner, sprightlier Leonardo — or at least you will in the show downstairs, where four of the Louvre’s five paintings by the artist have been relocated.
Upstairs, where Leonardo’s most famous work remains, is still a fiasco.
The Louvre houses the greatest collection of art anywhere in Europe, within a palace that is a masterpiece in its own right. It is, by some distance, the most popular museum in the world. In 2018 a record 10 million visitors, three-quarters of them foreign tourists, besieged the joint: up 25 percent on the previous year, and more than triple the attendance of the Centre Pompidou or the Musée d’Orsay.
Yet the Louvre is being held hostage by the Kim Kardashian of 16th-century Italian portraiture: the handsome but only moderately interesting Lisa Gherardini, better known (after her husband) as La Gioconda, whose renown so eclipses her importance that no one can even remember how she got famous in the first place.
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